You've got to see what the Mechanical Division dragged in. In this hilarious romp, the local theater troupe digs its claws into the pretensions of the theater world, theater people and theater-people wannabes. Tad Heathcock (use the full name, please -- it's his Equity union name, and he's earned it!) is on a mission to bring audiences one-man-show versions of the great musicals. "Cat" is his latest, following on the heels of "The Fantastick" and "Merrily I Roll Along." This cast provides audiences with at least as much fun as a bobbing piece of yarn offers to a fat tabby. More show information.
- BRIAN LEEHAN
Just hours after Standard and Poor's downgraded the U.S. credit rating for the first time in history, Phil van Hest took to the stage at Huge Improv Theater to explain the history of civilization through beer and banking. I admit that the idea of telling jokes about the Federal Reserve and America's GDP sounds more like work than fun. But Van Hest's wonky comedy is lucid, insightful and a sheer delight. (8:30 p.m. Wed., 7 p.m. Fri. Huge Improv Theater, 3037 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls.)
- ROHAN PRESTON
Charles Busch's 1984 play is a camp classic, one of the first examples of queer theater to hit the mainstream. The story concerns the rivalry between two lesbian succubi beginning in "the twin cities" of Sodom and Gomorrah and revisited in 1920s Hollywood and contemporary Las Vegas. Brazen Theatre plays it straight, so to speak, resisting the urge to camp it up further, making the silly play a delightful piece of fluff. Mark Hooker, in drag as one of the lesbian vampires, walks off with the performance, particularly when he dips into his Cher impersonator voice. More show information.
- WILLIAM RANDALL BEARD
A large cast of young actors dives into existentialism and absurdism with this obtuse and ultimately boring tale. Misfits fill time while they wait for an ominous fate. Sounds like life, of course, and that certainly is the intent of Andrew Johnston's script. But there is no galvanizing sense. Even a madhouse needs a sense of a universe and some logic. If you dream of time standing still, see this show because that's how it feels. More show information.
- GRAYDON ROYCE
"Going to the Soirée" provides an opportunity for choreographer Sarah LaRose-Holland of Kinetic Evolutions to explore character-based work, a new direction in the repertory of her five-year-old company. The result is a playful romp referencing not just sock hops, malt shops and road trips but also inspirations that seem just a bit darker and more intriguing, all set to music ranging from Louis Armstrong to DeVotchKa. The program includes the witty, pratfall-driven quintet "Stuck in 5" and the rock-and-rhythm inspired "Visceral Experiences," featuring propulsive live music from the band B-Line. More show information.
- CAROLINE PALMER
Minneapolis' venerable Hauser Dance celebrates its 50th anniversary and its Fringe debut with a flurry of dance antics. A woman raises her arms in revelation only to have silverware spill from her sleeves; a trio of explorers in safari garb break out in monkey shrieks. Much of the humor comes from musical play -- a dance of small effects to a roaring Russian score. More comes from the comic talent of the veteran performers. Ping-pong balls, mantis arms, toga-party couture and goofy moves fill in any gaps. More show information.
- LIGHTSEY DARST
Whether this show is worth seeing is all about what you're looking for. One actor, no set, no costumes -- did you already stop reading? If not, then consider this: The actor, Seth Lepore, plays at least a dozen characters (if you can keep count), and switches between their various accents, mannerisms and facial expressions with ease and audience hilarity. If you're still with me, consider some of the topics he chooses to explore: yoga, masturbation, suicide, Buddhism, self-help books, angels. If the most basic degree of simplicity doesn't turn you away, then Lepore's talent surely will keep your attention. More show information.
- JESSICA BAKEMAN